(Date: 11 March 2006)
Elkanah Onkware ANGWENYI (ahng-WEH-nyee), Kenya (1500m)
Born: 5 February 1983, Kisii District, Nyanza Province, Kenya.
Eighth of eight children (only son) of peasant farmers. 1.78m / 61 kg
Manager: Hussein Makke
Married, son born 2003. Constable in Kenya Police.
Began running in primary school, both in school competitions and, as is common in Kenya, as a way to get to school on time. Finished high school in Kisii and was recruited into the police in 2001.
First appeared on international radar when he finished 8th in the 4 km race at Kenya’s National Cross Country Championships in 2003, thus missing selection for the Lausanne World Cross by two places. His 8th place was enough to attract the attention of manager Makke, however, and he brought Angwenyi to his American base in Philadelphia in January 2004. Almost immediately, the new recruit entered and won a race—the mile at the indoor New Balance Games in New York (4:02.73i).
The remainder of 2004 saw a couple of successful races in Oregon in June—2nd in the 3000m (7:43.28) at the adidas meet in Portland and 3rd in the featured mile (3:54.52) at the Prefontaine GP in Eugene.
2005 was a much busier year, with half a dozen races in North America, including a 3:54.23 indoor mile at the Boston Indoor Games (3rd behind countrymen Laban Rotich and Bernard Lagat, and 3rd on the 2005 indoor world list) and a 3:53.05 for 4th at the Prefontaine GP. He then traveled to Europe for five more races, all 1500m, culminating in a 7th place at the Brussels Golden League in a PB 3:33.43.
So far in 2006 he has had a busy indoor season and has won every final he has finished—miles in New York (3:57.47i) and Boston (3:55.95i), beating, among others, Rotich, Adam Goucher and Kevin Sullivan, and a 1000m in Stockholm (2:22.22i PB). The night after the Stockholm race he was due to run the celebrated Wanamaker Mile in New York’s Millrose Games as a pacemaker for the much ballyhooed duel between Lagat and Kenenisa Bekele, who was attempting the distance for the first time. The year before Angwenyi had paced Lagat to a meet record, and the meet organizer and Lagat’s manager were hoping for a repeat performance. But they were very anxious about the young Kenyan’s arriving on time and in shape to do the job so soon after his Stockholm race. Angwenyi, however, appeared on schedule and ran exactly as ordered, which turned out to be too fast for Kenenisa, who fell off the rapid pace by halfway, leaving Lagat alone in front.
Qualifying comfortably in the first round in Moscow, Angwenyi looks to be one of the likeliest dark horses hoping to upset Kenya’s Daniel Kipchirchir Komen, who enters with by far the strongest credentials in the 1500m field. Komen, however, has shown tactical weakness in big meets, and if he falters again, new kid Angwenyi may be the man best able to take advantage.
Yearly progression (1500m/mile): 2004 - 3:38.66+/3:54.52; 2005 – 3:33.43 / 3:53.05. Indoors (mile only): 2004 – 4:02.73i; 2005 – 3:54.23i; 2006 – 3:55.95i.
Prepared by John Manners for the IAAF Focus on Athletes project. © IAAF 2006.